Soundtracks Listening Game
An engaging and challenging listening game for pre-schoolers (3-6) available in two versions - Original Soundtracks and Animal Soundtracks.
Both games feature four playing cards (each showing nine images), a CD of sound effects, 40 coloured counters (10 of each colour - 9 to cover the images and one spare just in case!) and a small pamphlet showing track list. Both versions promote concentration and advanced listening skills.
The Soundtracks games also encourage self-control as the child(ren) must refrain from loudly calling out the answers. If a child shouts out the answer as the tracks are playing then it's hard to hear the full effect or the next sound. It's therefore important for the children to suggest their guesses quietly or wait until the pause between tracks. This requires lots of self-control and is ideal for children who need to practice productively channeling their energy!
The original Soundtracks game includes familiar sounds made by common objects - a phone ringing, car revving, children laughing and so forth. These sounds are all likely to be quite familiar to pre-school aged children but they still vary in difficulty. Some are very direct and obvious - like a frog croaking - while others are a little more abstract and challenging - like the sound of a shovel digging into sand. Sometimes a child will be able to identify the sound alone - simply listening to the effect and announcing the answer! Other times a child will need to search through the images to try to 'narrow the field' and get clues about the sound. The original Soundtracks is the ideal starting level to introduce the concept of this game.
Animal Soundtracks offers a more challenging take on the Soundtracks concept. This time all the sounds are animals - and it can become remarkably tricky for children (and adults!) to correctly identify some of these sounds. In particular, there are several sets of animals that emit similar sounds - the 'bark' of a dog and a seal for instance - and so this game encourages lots of lively debate and problem-solving.
The Animal Soundtracks version offers a more challenging experience for older children just by flipping over the game cards. On the reverse side is the written name of each object/animal rather than the image. This allows the child(ren) to repeat the sound matching game but with the incorporated element of reading and word recognition! (As an added bonus, each word is repeated in multiple languages!). Please remember that this feature is only present in Animal Soundtracks, not the original Soundtracks game.
The game is intended to be played in the style of "bingo". That is, each player receives a card for himself/herself and then places a counter on one of the squares when the corresponding sound is heard. If played in that style the game is a competition - with players pitched against one another racing to "win" by completing the card first. I personally prefer not to use the game in this bingo style - my more 'Montessori' model of gameplay is outlined below - but if you do choose to present the game as a competition then please remember to set your CD player to 'random' (or 'shuffle'!). Playing the CD on 'random' ensures that the tracks will appear in a different order for each game, allowing 'chance' to take over instead of having one card that will consistently 'win' each time just because it finishes first in the track list!
My Montessori model for playing non-competitive Soundtracks!
I really appreciate the benefits of this game but, in keeping with the Montessori principles, I do not encourage 'competition' in my classroom. I therefore adapt the game so that all the children are working together as a team to complete the game.
It's really easy to make this adaptation - the cards are simply arranged together rather than distributed to individual children. Each child who is playing then takes turns placing on a counter. In this model I encourage teamwork and discussion - if a child is unsure of the sound on his/her turn then the other players offer suggestions or clues. If several players disagree about what a sound could be then I encourage discussion and friendly debate. We then listen to the sound again and the player who is taking his/her turn has final say over where to place the counter.
The counters are in four different colours as they are intended for four competing players - but you can simply mix them together and let children choose colours for the non-competitive version.
Remember - the game can also be played by a single child! He or she can simply put all the cards together and listen to the CD (perhaps privately through the use of headphones/a listening station) to independently identifying all the objects/animals!
The game includes an in-built self-corrective mechanism because the counters are substantially smaller than the images on the playing cards. When a counter is placed on an incorrect object/animal the image is still quite clearly visible. Therefore, if a counter has been incorrectly placed - and the child later hears another sound that DOES relate to that covered object/animal - then the child can still see the related picture and remove the original counter.
Teaching tip: The first time (or first few times) that you present the game to a child, or group of children, it's useful to remain close to the CD player so you can press 'pause' between each track. This allows more time to remind children of the processes and steps involved - or to provide scaffolding to help them identify the sound and find the image. As the children become more proficient the CD can be left to play - there is a short pause built in between each track - but a bit more time is useful initially.
*Another teaching tip: The game includes a 'cheat sheet' showing a track list of each sound with the correct object/animal (this is also printed on the CD itself). I recommend taking a copy of this list - either by photocopying or taking a photograph - and sticky-taping the copy to the outside of the box. That way you won't get stuck if the cheat sheet goes missing!
Finally (and it might sound like a funny detail to mention!) the Soundtracks games come in a clearly labelled and illustrated box! Any parent or teacher knows how challenging it can be to find storage space for all the treasures. Materials that have a clearly labelled box (like this one!) are extraordinarily helpful in this regard as they are easier to store, stack and then locate! A quick glance in the cupboard and you can easily see the box. It saves you from rooting around underneath and behind other resources or opening countless generic boxes to find it.